Next month I have the opportunity to book a table at a small local vendor show. It's not a lot of money to get the table, and it seems like it might be a good way to get exposure for my web design business. Other local businesses will be participating, and members of the community come to see what's going on in the area. At the very least it seems like a good networking opportunity.
Has anyone participated in these types of shows and found them worthwhile? I can set up my table with some kind of display - any ideas what might be good? Posters of sites I've done? Maybe a computer set up with my web portfolio? I'm thinking I'd like to have something more than an empty table with my business cards and some flyers, but I'm still not quite sure what would be the best approach.
I've personally never done one, but I will say this. "an empty table with my business cards and some flyers" is the worse thing you can do. How many tables have you passed up because they just look like a marketing/sales man gimmick? Me, I've passed up hundreds!
You need to show a presence, you need to have something that captures and holds someone's attention for at least 5 seconds. Get past the first 5 seconds and you will have a potential client/customer/referral.
Posters of sites is a REALLY REALLY good idea. Line them up, make sure they are appealing to the eye, colorful, etc. Don't place flyers or business cards on the table. Fill it with photos of screenshots if the sites you did. Have them on the table for people to browse through, all while they are there you can ask them questions, get involved, anything that keeps them there for at least 5 seconds.
When they are getting done, ask if they would like a business card or flyer.
Another idea, have a raffle for 25% off for one lucky person/customer. However! Do not put this up front and center. Get the person to come to you not just for the raffle, but because they show interest. While they are there, ask if they would like to enter the raffle and give them a ticket and pen.
Just my 2 cents
Yes, I've had some experience of this, and I can give you a couple of pieces of advice.
First, don't leave the table unattended unless absolutely necessary. A few people might pick up your business card, but the real benefits of the show will come via personal contacts. You need to be available for as much time as possible to speak to the visitors and answer their questions.
Second, keep your diary clear for the few days immediately after the show. Also your phone line. If things go well, you'll get calls from potential customers in that time, and you want to be around to take them.
I once worked with a company who didn't take my advice on that second point. They lost several possible sales because the CEO was out of town for the rest of the week.
Apart from that, I'd say go for it. It sounds like a good way of making contacts in your community. Good luck, and let us know how you get on.
Thanks for the replies! I will definitely take this advice and post a follow-up with any lessons I've learned.
As you've said, I think the best benefit from this will be the personal face-to-face time with local business people and potential clients.
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